--- Presentation ---
The Havana arrived in a sleek black stiff paper box with the “TOMBOW” embossed in silver letters on the middle. Simple, yet elegant. There is no indication of what lies within, save for a UPC sticker on the underside. Inside is a hinged metal box with the same logo in the center. The Havana was tucked away nicely in a foam cutout shaped to the pen and included the user manual pamphlet as well as a cart of blue ink. The pen itself had an empty dummy ink cart installed. I understand that all Tombow FPs arrive this way. As for why, I do not know.
--- Design, Fit, and Finish ---
As the name implies, the Havana is shaped like a cigar. The end of the barrel is rounded while the cap has a more abrupt blunt ending, which can resemble a cigar. Perhaps like a corona shape that has a slight bulge in the middle. I’ve included a shot of the Havana next to a Romeo y Julieta robusto cigar for a shape comparison. The pen is constructed of brushed aluminum with a light champagne-gold colour, a black rubberized mid-section, and thin silver trim rings bordering the rubberized section. All parts come together flawlessly without any wiggles or looseness.
The first time I uncapped the pen, I was met with significant resistance. The cap had a very strong snap retention mechanism and I did have to make use of the rubberized section for a better grip. I surmise it was placed there for that very reason. With the cap off, the grip section is a black rubbery material that isn’t as grippy as the external mid-section, but offers a comfortable grasp.
The cap is among the best designed I have encountered. The inner cap has rubberized fingers, similar to that of a Parker 51 cap, that serve a dual purpose. One is to guide and cushion the nib into its final resting place when capping, and the other is to provide a firm friction-fit when posting. This is a great feature as it avoids metal-to-metal contact of the cap to the barrel and prevents marring the finish. As detailed earlier, the cap closes with a resounding snap and offers a tenacious grip that leaves me without any doubts of the pen accidentally uncapping.
The clip is a flat rounded affair in a polished chrome finish. It isn’t spring-loaded and relies upon it’s own flex for retention. The tension is quite firm and keeps the pen well secured in a shirt pocket. The clip extends to the very end of the cap and finishes in a ring around the crown of it. The very center of the cap end is the same rubbery material the makes up the mid-section. Perhaps this is to symbolize the burnt and charred end of a cigar.
--- Nib & Writing ---
The nib is a curved stainless one and characteristically lacks a breather hole, the traditional flare at the sides, and any other decorations. The only markings on it are “TOMBOW” and “EF”. The nib is like a hard nail and lays down a very consistent line at various writing angles that is a touch on the drier side. The extra fine size is on par with most Japanese XF nibs in terms of line width. Once the feed was fully primed with Noodler’s black, the pen wrote immediately upon contact with paper, but had a few bouts of skipping on fast strokes. Out of the box, it is smooth, but not “buttery smooth”. There is a tiny bit of tooth that lends excellent feedback that, in my opinion, allows a more enjoyable writing experience. The grip feels reasonably comfortable and posting the cap does not alter balance noticeably. I’ve gotten used to writing with a Sheaffer Legacy II and the fatter grip made the Havana’s slim grip feel a little small.
Being that I prefer nibs of moderate wetness, I flossed a few passes through the nib with an ultra fine mylar polishing disc. The end result was a nib that now lays down a wetter line, but at the expense of some fineness. Now if I scribble out a signature quickly, the nib doesn’t skip no matter how fast I write. Despite being a tad wetter, I find the nib does tend to dry out after being uncapped for as little as 30 seconds. A little firmer pressure to open the tines get the ink flowing again.
The black plastic feed is very minimalist and low profile. Hidden in the sides just under the edges of the nib are some serrations that likely act as an ink reservoir. I like the slim profile of the nib and feed and it makes for a more modern look compared to the feeds that bristle with fins like a Sailor Sapporo. It works well and keeps the nib well hydrated and ready for action.
--- Filling ---
The Havana accepts International Standard ink carts and includes one filled with blue ink. No converter was included. The photos show a longer than normal ink cart. This is my own cartridge created by fusing together two regular carts because I never liked the limited capacity of them. The Tombow converter also fits in this pen, but since it has the same capacity of a single cartridge, I’d prefer to either use my “Franken-cart” or pop in a single cart and a spare right behind it.
One feature I really like about the Havana is the ability to refill the pen without having to uncap it. Being a clumsy fellow, uncapped pens laying around on my desk are likely to become sources of ink stains on my forearms or shirt sleeves and risk nib damage from being knocked to the ground.
--- Final Thoughts ---
Another fine pen from the folks at Tombow. The pen has been around for a while and was the winner of 1990 Germany International Design iF Award. I can see why - an attractive shape and finish combined with excellent performance and a price that won’t force you to sell half your collection to buy it. Overall, I’ve only two main gripes: first being the IS ink cartridge fill system, and the second being the pen is only available in a brushed aluminum finish. No other colour options. I purchased a rollerball version in a gunmetal finish as a secondary pen for when I need to loan one out to a buddy and for when I need to press hard for carbon copies. Unfortunately, the rollerball cap and barrel are not interchangeable with the FP parts as they are fitted with pen-specific internal hardware. Aside from these two issues, I’m happy with the Havana. I think it is a good working pen that doesn’t draw attention to itself, but will give users a pleasant writing experience.
- edited for grammar -
Edited by J-san, 27 October 2008 - 04:16.